Essay on Regulating Toxic Waste Emissions: EPCRA

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I. Introduction Regulating the toxic waste emissions of polluting organizations has been a costly and time-consuming element of environmental policy for as long as there have been restrictions on these emissions. However, the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), signed into law in late 1986, set forth a number of standards that required polluters to disclose information about their emissions levels to the public and started a chain of events that has led to the creation of numerous information disclosure policies. One of the main thoughts behind these laws, aside from the benefit of increased public awareness of pollution in the community and the ability to plan for emergencies involving the wastes from…show more content…
II. Background and Methods of “Right-to-Know” Policy Before explaining the strengths and weaknesses of right-to-know policies, it is important to understand which laws make up the current right-to-know policy. Right-to-know policy first came about with the passage of EPCRA in 1986. Several years after the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) was passed in 1980 as a response to the Love Canal incident, it became clear that amendments were needed because Superfund provided money to clean up contaminated areas, but did little to prevent more areas from becoming contaminated. Thus, EPCRA was designed to require businesses to disclose to several different authorities as well as to the public a variety of statistics on the hazardous chemicals used in their various manufacturing processes . EPCRA also established the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), which provides a list of toxic chemicals firms are required to report under EPCRA. TRI was not particularly well-received by the EPA at first, but it later became recognized as one of the most effective right-to-know policies, strongly encouraging firms’ abilities to monitor themselves . Eventually, states began to take initiatives of their own, as shown by 1989’s Toxics Use Reduction Act (TURA) in Massachusetts, which requires firms to report their levels of toxics usage as well as make efforts to reduce

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